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Prison Legal News: December, 2015

Issue PDF
Volume 26, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Aramark’s Correctional Food Services: Meals, Maggots and Misconduct (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 18)
  3. Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act Introduced with Broad Bipartisan Support (p 18)
  4. Arizona Jury Awards $3.4 Million against Owner of Sex Offender Websites (p 20)
  5. New Health Care Provider Picked for Oregon Jail after Audit Criticizes Corizon (p 22)
  6. Family of MCC Chicago Prisoner Settles Wrongful Death Claim for $700,000 (p 22)
  7. One of Two Charges Dropped against Former Texas Governor in Abuse-of-Power Case (p 24)
  8. Texas Prison Escapes Down Since “Texas Seven” (p 25)
  9. “No Hope for Me”: Women Stripped of Parental Rights after Minor Crimes (p 26)
  10. $350,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Prisoner’s Suicide (p 29)
  11. Miami-Dade Sex Offender Residency Ordinance Unsuccessfully Challenged (p 30)
  12. California Legislation Permitting NVDP Incarceration Held Unconstitutional (p 30)
  13. Racial Discrimination Costs Michigan DOC Over $1 Million (p 32)
  14. Second Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Abuses at Pennsylvania County Prison (p 32)
  15. Lawsuit Challenges Dental Care in Michigan Prisons (p 33)
  16. $451,000 Federal Jury Award for Illinois Prisoner Beaten by Jail Guard (p 34)
  17. Minnesota County Jail Pays $1 Million in Medical Neglect Case (p 34)
  18. Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules Amended Sex Offender Registration Law Ex Post Facto (p 35)
  19. Federal Court Finds Texas Violates Rights of Muslim Prisoners (p 36)
  20. Prison Ecology (p 39)
  21. Breaking News! FCC Votes to Further Reform Prison Phone Industry (p 40)
  22. Equal Justice Initiative Files Suit Over High Levels of Violence at Alabama Prison (p 42)
  23. Supermax Censorship Claimed by Prison Legal News (p 44)
  24. Oregon Corrections Enterprises Whistleblower Receives $450,000 for Wrongful Termination (p 44)
  25. Massachusetts Power Struggle over Cronyism Blocks Assistant Court Clerk Hiring (p 46)
  26. Texas Enacts Legislation to Reduce Wrongful Convictions (p 48)
  27. Michigan: Former Prisoners Must Repay Lawsuit Cash Advance Company (p 49)
  28. Follow the Money: Invisible Investors Seek Big Bucks in Mass Incarceration (p 50)
  29. One-Continuous-Sentence Rule Governs Colorado Parole Eligibility Dates (p 52)
  30. PLN Files Censorship Suit against Jail in Tulare County, California (p 53)
  31. Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners Released as New York Prosecutors Review Tainted Cases; $23.4 Million in Settlements Thus Far (p 54)
  32. Nebraska County Corrections Officials Fired (p 55)
  33. Idaho: FBI Declines to Press Criminal Charges against CCA for Falsified Staffing Records (p 56)
  34. Obama Administration Promises Transparency but Vigorously Prosecutes Whistleblowers (p 58)
  35. Privatized Prisoner Transportation Service Poses Problems (p 60)
  36. News in Brief (p 63)

Aramark’s Correctional Food Services: Meals, Maggots and Misconduct

Aramark’s Correctional Food Services: Meals, Maggots and Misconduct

by Christopher Zoukis and Rod L. Bower

Prison food service vendor Aramark was included among 132 businesses in 21 countries that were named the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2015 by Ethisphere Institute, a self-described “global leader” in defining standards for ethical ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

With the holidays upon us, people outside of prison often think of holiday meals as times of joy and thankfulness for what they have in their lives. Where a shared meal around a dinner table with family and friends is viewed as a time ...

Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act Introduced with Broad Bipartisan Support

Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act Introduced with Broad Bipartisan Support

by Derek Gilna

According to its bipartisan sponsors, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123), introduced in the U.S. Senate on October 1, 2015, will have a major impact on the mandatory minimum sentencing regimen that has filled ...

Arizona Jury Awards $3.4 Million against Owner of Sex Offender Websites

Arizona Jury Awards $3.4 Million against Owner of Sex Offender Websites

by Matt Clarke

In May 2014, a Maricopa County, Arizona jury awarded $3.4 million to people who were falsely profiled on private sex offender websites owned by businessman Charles “Chuck” Rodrick, 52, including SexOffenderrecord.com, Offendex.com ...

New Health Care Provider Picked for Oregon Jail after Audit Criticizes Corizon

New Health Care Provider Picked for Oregon Jail after Audit Criticizes Corizon

by Mark Wilson

A Birmingham, Alabama health care company has taken over medical care at the Washington County jail in Hillsboro, Oregon in the wake of a scathing audit that led county officials to terminate a contract with ...

Family of MCC Chicago Prisoner Settles Wrongful Death Claim for $700,000

Family of MCC Chicago Prisoner Settles Wrongful Death Claim for $700,000

by Derek Gilna

Federal prisoner Habib Solebo entered the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago, Illinois with a myriad of health problems despite his young age of 23, the most serious of which was a form of seizure ...

One of Two Charges Dropped against Former Texas Governor in Abuse-of-Power Case

One of Two Charges Dropped against Former Texas Governor in Abuse-of-Power Case

by Matt Clarke

One criminal charge has been dismissed in an abuse-of-power case filed against ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry, but a second charge remains pending that stems from his attempt to force the resignation of the district attorney ...

Texas Prison Escapes Down Since “Texas Seven”

Texas Prison Escapes Down Since “Texas Seven”

by Matt Clarke

Officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) say the number of escapes from state prisons dropped sharply after seven prisoners staged a brazen break-out in 2001. Since 2012 there have been only three escapes from secure facilities, all ...

“No Hope for Me”: Women Stripped of Parental Rights after Minor Crimes

“No Hope for Me”: Women Stripped of Parental Rights after Minor Crimes

by Sharona Coutts and Zoe Greenberg, RH Reality Check

Five years ago, LaDonna Hopkins was caught stealing clothes from a store in Rock Island County, Illinois. She wasn’t stealing them to wear, but to sell on the street ...

$350,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Prisoner’s Suicide

$350,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Prisoner’s Suicide

by David Reutter

A $350,000 settlement was reportedly reached in the 2007 suicide of a prisoner at Pennsylvania’s Blair County Prison (BCP). The settlement included the prisoner’s personal physician as well as county defendants.

Following an injury to his right leg in ...

Miami-Dade Sex Offender Residency Ordinance Unsuccessfully Challenged

Miami-Dade Sex Offender Residency Ordinance Unsuccessfully Challenged

by David M. Reutter

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently challenged the constitutionality of a Miami-Dade County, Florida ordinance that, according to the organization, forces sex offenders on probation into homelessness by imposing residency restrictions so harsh there is literally no place ...

California Legislation Permitting NVDP Incarceration Held Unconstitutional

California Legislation Permitting NVDP Incarceration Held Unconstitutional

by Mark Wilson

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, held on January 20, 2015 that a section of California’s realignment legislation improperly amended Proposition 36, a voter initiative, in violation of the state constitution.

In 2000, California voters enacted Prop 36, which ...

Racial Discrimination Costs Michigan DOC Over $1 Million

Racial Discrimination Costs Michigan DOC Over $1 Million

by David Reutter

Last year, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) paid more than $1 million in damages in two lawsuits that accused the department of failing to take action despite having knowledge of blatant racism by an MDOC supervisor.

Faced with ...

Second Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Abuses at Pennsylvania County Prison

Second Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Abuses at Pennsylvania County Prison

by David Reutter

A second federal lawsuit has been filed by a former prisoner at Pennsylvania’s York County Prison, alleging that his civil rights were violated by a pattern of abuse by guards that included forcing prisoners to fight each ...

Lawsuit Challenges Dental Care in Michigan Prisons

Lawsuit Challenges Dental Care in Michigan Prisons

by David Reutter

A lawsuit alleging the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) fails to provide prisoners with adequate and constitutional dental care was filed in federal court in April 2014.

“How do you eat with one tooth?” asked Daniel E. Manville, director ...

$451,000 Federal Jury Award for Illinois Prisoner Beaten by Jail Guard

$451,000 Federal Jury Award for Illinois Prisoner Beaten by Jail Guard

by Matt Clarke

In March 2014, an Illinois federal jury awarded $451,000 to a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Jail who was severely beaten by a guard a dozen years earlier.

James Degorski, 41, filed a ...

Minnesota County Jail Pays $1 Million in Medical Neglect Case

Minnesota County Jail Pays $1 Million in Medical Neglect Case

by Lonnie Burton

In a settlement that is believed to be the largest of its kind for a medical neglect claim in the state of Minnesota, Hennepin County agreed to pay $1 million to a mentally ill prisoner who stabbed ...

Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules Amended Sex Offender Registration Law Ex Post Facto

Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules Amended Sex Offender Registration Law Ex Post Facto

by Gary Hunter

On July 12, 2013, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill requiring the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) to amend registry requirements for defendants classified as level two and level three sex ...

Federal Court Finds Texas Violates Rights of Muslim Prisoners

Federal Court Finds Texas Violates Rights of Muslim Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

On April 30, 2014, a federal district court held that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was violating the constitutional rights of Muslim prisoners by limiting their religious services to one hour per week unless a volunteer ...

Prison Ecology

Prison Ecology

by Dashka Slater

On a February evening in 2005, a couple hundred people showed up at a public hearing at Oak Grove High School in north-central Alabama to complain about sewage in the tributaries of the Black Warrior River, a popular site for swimming, boating and fishing. The ...

Breaking News! FCC Votes to Further Reform Prison Phone Industry

Breaking News! FCC Votes to Further Reform Prison Phone Industry

by Carrie Wilkinson

The cover story of the December 2013 issue of Prison Legal News was titled “FCC Order Heralds Hope for Reform of Prison Phone Industry.” It included a primer on prison and jail phone services, and detailed ...

Equal Justice Initiative Files Suit Over High Levels of Violence at Alabama Prison

Equal Justice Initiative Files Suit Over High Levels of Violence at Alabama Prison

by Joe Watson

The Montgomery, Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) filed suit against the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) on October 13, 2014, alleging the department had done nothing to stem what the non-profit organization called an ...

Supermax Censorship Claimed by Prison Legal News

Supermax Censorship Claimed by Prison Legal News

by Alan Prendergast

The U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum outside Florence, Colorado, better known as ADX, has a deserved reputation as the highest-security supermax prison on the planet. It houses some of the most notorious prisoners in North America – from Unabomber Ted ...

Oregon Corrections Enterprises Whistleblower Receives $450,000 for Wrongful Termination

Oregon Corrections Enterprises Whistleblower Receives $450,000 for Wrongful Termination

by Derek Gilna

Rob Killgore, former director of Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE), who was fired by Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Colette S. Peters after he came forward as a whistleblower alleging wrongdoing in both agencies, settled his wrongful ...

Massachusetts Power Struggle over Cronyism Blocks Assistant Court Clerk Hiring

Massachusetts Power Struggle over Cronyism Blocks Assistant Court Clerk Hiring

by Mark Wilson

An apparent power struggle over the proposed hiring of an assistant clerk in the Hingham District Court in Massachusetts, southeast of Boston, has blocked the daughter of a prominent attorney from taking the $104,000 position, leaving ...

Texas Enacts Legislation to Reduce Wrongful Convictions

Texas Enacts Legislation to Reduce Wrongful Convictions

by Matt Clarke

Legal experts in Texas are trying to iron out a wrinkle they say is an unintended consequence arising from a new law governing discovery in criminal cases, but despite the glitch, the statute has been hailed as landmark legislation aimed ...

Michigan: Former Prisoners Must Repay Lawsuit Cash Advance Company

Michigan: Former Prisoners Must Repay Lawsuit Cash Advance Company

by David Reutter

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court’s ruling that required eight former prisoners to repay a company that purchased a contingent portion of their lawsuit settlement.

The appellate decision affirmed the judgment of a ...

Follow the Money: Invisible Investors Seek Big Bucks in Mass Incarceration

by James Kilgore and Brian Dolinar, Truthout

When authorities booked Richard Murphy into the jail in Monterey, California on January 18, 2013, the war veteran likely never envisioned ending up being back in court months later, not to face criminal charges, but to expose the abuse he would suffer ...

One-Continuous-Sentence Rule Governs Colorado Parole Eligibility Dates

One-Continuous-Sentence Rule Governs Colorado Parole Eligibility Dates

by Mark Wilson

The Colorado Supreme Court held last year that state prison officials had misapplied the law and miscalculated a prisoner’s parole eligibility date (PED) for his consecutive sentence.

Colorado law requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to treat a prisoner’s consecutive ...

PLN Files Censorship Suit against Jail in Tulare County, California

PLN Files Censorship Suit against Jail in Tulare County, California

On October 29, 2015, Prison Legal News filed a federal lawsuit alleging unconstitutional censorship of publications sent to prisoners at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility in Tulare County, California. The complaint names the county, Sheriff-Coroner Mike Boudreaux and various jail ...

Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners Released as New York Prosecutors Review Tainted Cases; $23.4 Million in Settlements Thus Far

Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners Released as New York Prosecutors Review Tainted Cases; $23.4 Million in Settlements Thus Far

by Mark Wilson

Scores of prisoners from New York City have claimed for years that they were framed by now-retired Brooklyn Detective Louis Scarcella, 63. Based on an investigation into Scarcella’s tactics ...

Nebraska County Corrections Officials Fired

Nebraska County Corrections Officials Fired

Hall County, Nebraska corrections director Fred Ruiz and assistant director Jimmy Vann were fired on August 20, 2015 after the county board met with special investigators hired to review management and operational concerns at the Hall County jail.

The investigation began after long-time jail Sgt ...

Idaho: FBI Declines to Press Criminal Charges against CCA for Falsified Staffing Records

Idaho: FBI Declines to Press Criminal Charges against CCA for Falsified Staffing Records

by Joe Watson and Mark Wilson

The FBI will not pursue criminal charges following a 15-month investigation into allegations that the nation’s largest for-profit prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), understaffed the Idaho Correctional Center and ...

Obama Administration Promises Transparency but Vigorously Prosecutes Whistleblowers

Obama Administration Promises Transparency but Vigorously Prosecutes Whistleblowers

by Matt Clarke

In 2009, President Barack Obama promised a more transparent, whistleblower-friendly government. Obama claims he delivered on that promise with his November 27, 2012 signing of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, especially since he issued a White House policy directive ...

Privatized Prisoner Transportation Service Poses Problems

Privatized Prisoner Transportation Service Poses Problems

by David M. Reutter

Several lawsuits against the self-proclaimed “nation’s largest prisoner extradition company and one of the largest international transporters of detainees” have cast a harsh light on a contractor hired to fulfill the traditional government role of transporting prisoners from place to ...

News in Brief

California: On May 13, 2015, attorneys for Carlos Carasquilla and his wife filed a $15 million lawsuit against Tulare County alleging that guards opened a cell door to allow and encourage Carasquilla’s fellow prisoners to viciously beat him. Carasquilla had been jailed on a warrant for inappropriate contact with a ...